Friday, December 15, 2017

Slaying Dragons

An old story that came to my mind this morning: a man asked his friend with a terminal disease, “How does it feel to know you are dying?” The friend responded, “How do you feel to think you are not?”

How you cope with terminal disease depends on how you feel about battling dragons. You can meet the dragon head on, or you can turn tail and run. Fight or flight. It depends on the kind of person you are.

Alzheimer’s is a big, ugly fire-breathing dragon of a disease. It is a terminal disease that can take a decade or more to reach its ultimate conclusion. That’s entirely too long to be in “dying” mode.

As if having a terminal disease isn’t enough of a problem, people often have more than one potentially fatal condition. Heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer…the list goes on and on. While you are battling the big dragon, smaller potentially dangerous dragons are coming at you from every side.

In real life, you battle diseases as if you were fighting those mythical dragons, that is, one at a time. Otherwise, it is overwhelming.

When Jim developed other medical problems, we dealt with them as they came. I decided it was best to address each issue as it arrived. My thoughts were to keep him as healthy and mobile as possible.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects every person in the family. It may affect them in different ways. One person steps up to be the caregiver—usually a spouse or child. Some may withdraw while others go into overdrive to provide support for the primary caregiver. Then, there’s Mr. or Ms. Know-it-All who don’t really want to do anything but tell everyone else how to do it. Yes, the personalities of those involved can be quite challenging.

Ultimately, the biggest choice is whether to give up or go slay the dragon. When you give up, you waste precious time. Chronic illness of any type becomes a dragon that needs to be slain.

If you look at what you still have instead of what you’ve lost, you can begin to enjoy life. Cherish those little moments of joy, and make memories. You don’t want to lose a decade of your life seeing only the doom and gloom of a terminal disease. Become a dragon slayer!  

Copyright © December 2017 by L.S. Fisher

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